BELGRADE – European soccer’s governing body ruled on June 9 that Kosovo should be kept separate from Serbia and Bosnia for security reasons in competitive matches.
UEFA, which admitted Kosovo as a 55th member last month despite strong opposition from Serbia, placed its newest member in a World Cup qualifying group with Ukraine, Croatia, Iceland, Finland, and Turkey.
Of the five nations in Kosovo’s qualifying group, only Ukraine has not yet recognized Kosovo as a state since it declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has a significant minority population of ethnic Serbs, have not formally recognized Kosovo.
Kosovo and Gibraltar were both accepted as FIFA members last month and had to be found places in the World Cup qualifying program that kicks off in September.
Serbia has vowed to take legal action to reverse its former province’s admission.
Clubs from Kosovo will have to wait at least a year to make their debut in European competitions after failing to comply with UEFA licensing and spending regulations in time to play next season.